Friday, June 13, 2014

Running SKIRTS Review: C9, Skirt Sports, Sparkle Skirts

I know – I am way, way, WAY overdue for a new post.  I’d like to say I’ve been ever so busy, but… mostly I’ve been bitter.  About this:

photo from runDisney

Yep, runDisney finally announced the long-rumored Star Wars race weekend.  To be held in DisneyLAND.  Nowhere near Florida, the state I can’t afford to leave for the foreseeable future.


That’ s a personal issue and I won’t waste time complaining about it here.  But it has been a downer.

Know what else has been a downer?  Summer.  In Florida.  The state I can’t afford to leave anytime soon.  Yes, the deep, dank, soul-sucking season of equatorial heat and monsoons is here and I’m already sick of it.


But you’re not here to listen to me whine about races I’m not running or weather I can’t control, right?  Let’s get back on track…

…with a RUNNING SKIRTS REVIEW!  Yep, that’s skirts, plural.  

C9 from Target

I've been exercising in C9 (a partnership brand between Champion and Target) clothing since its inception, and have found the brand to be inexpensive, comfortable and durable.  So when I wanted to try a running skirt, a C9 model was the first I tried.  And it was the only skirt I used for the better part of two years.  But last year, C9 changed up its skirts with some new shapes and fabrics, just as my old ones were getting a touch too big from a combination of weight loss and wear and tear.  So I bought this one as a replacement:

Photo from
Photo from

I'm not in love with it, sadly.

  • A drawstring at the waist is a really nice touch and means that as I lose pounds on a summer run, I can quickly adjust the waist to a more secure fit.
  • This is so lightweight, I'm nearly unaware of wearing it.  Fabric is really thin, but opaque; no see-through issues. And it dries very quickly - a major plus when using it for non-running activities such as water rides at theme parks.
  • The black front panel/grey back panel is surprisingly flattering.  I worried that it would make my backside look overly ample, but no. And the A-line shape and length is perfect on me.
  • Only one: the legs roll up.  The legs rolling up thing isn't new; it happens with every one of my C9 skirts.  I've just accepted it; if it's hot enough to bare my legs entirely, then it's also hot and humid enough that I'm sleek with sweat - no need to worry about chafing.  So I was happily running in this skirt regularly.  Until I tried...

Skirt Sports - Gym Girl Ultra

A sale coupled with free shipping and the recommendation from several friends led me to give this beauty a try.  First reaction: overall, it felt a bit heavier than my C9 skirts, but the fabric itself was thin and light.  The skirt is split on both sides to facilitate movement and access to pockets on each leg of the shorts.  

This is upside-down. Blogger won't let me fix that. Sorry.
I have trust issues, hence the safety pin to keep my keys from falling out.
It was unnecessary, though - keys stayed put just fine!

So did a Clif Shot.
The shorts are made of a mesh material, and there is an exterior zippered pocket on the back of the waist.  This is a beautifully engineered skirt that is incredibly well-made.  It was $45 on sale, so almost double what I paid for my C9 skirt, but the superior quality was evident immediately.  I took this on a seven mile run for a test...

  • Not quite as noticeably light as my C9 skirt, but still very lightweight.
  • So cool and airy!  The mesh shorts and split skirt made this super comfortable on a very hot run.
  • Low and not too-squeezy waistband.  This may actually be a low-rise on a taller person.  On me, it fits just where and how I like it: below my belly-button, but above my hip bones, and securely without digging-in in any way.
  • Pockets!  The leg pockets are awesome. I can stuff a few gels in each, lip balm, car key, etc.  My iPhone 4S fits, too, but I prefer to keep it elsewhere.  The back pocket is pretty big and could also fit some gels, keys, etc.
  • Shape - not quite as flattering as the A-line of the C9, but good enough that I don't feel silly in it.  And roomy enough to not hamper my stride in any way.
  • Leg openings that DO. NOT. BUDGE.  I truly didn't know what I'd been missing until this skirt came into my life!  The legs stayed put for all 7 miles and I realized at some point that was much more comfortable than the rolled-up legs of my C9 skirts.
  • Um... there really aren't any!  I might not want to overload the back pocket, as I think too much weight in there could pull the waistband down uncomfortably.  But with the other two side pockets available, I can't see any need to overload it anyway.  That's all I've got for cons.  I LOVE this skirt! Truly worth every penny of its cost.

Sparkle Skirts - Sparkle Tech in Swing and Slim styles

HUGE pocket on the side of each shorts leg.

First, know that the Sparkle Skirt brand is pretty much legendary among the ladies who run Disney.  Join any Disney-focused running group and you'll hear the virtues of these skirts extolled: "The pockets! The legs that don't ride up! The patterns!"  People adore this brand!  I had to give it a try and I couldn't decide between two patterns of the SparkleTech skirt.  So I got both!  And have tried each...

  • Both of these are fabulous alternatives to wearing shorts in the summer for non-running activities.  Which is really great, since I can't seem to find shorts that fit properly and are flattering on me.
  • The leg pockets are enormous!  There's almost no limit to what can be stuffed in there. There's also a zippered waist pocket that can be worn in front or in back and it would hold quite a bit, too.
  • It's true: the legs don't roll up at all!
  • The patterns available (with new ones being added regularly) are pretty amazing.  These two skirts collectively coordinate with nearly every running and non-running shirt I own!
  • I ordered the Slim cut a size bigger to get a bit more A-line shape, as I'd heard that it can look a little too squeezy otherwise.  It's not exactly A-line, but does seem to hang nicely on me.  
Rockin' Comic Relief at WDW's Star Wars Weekend!

  • These skirts feel surprisingly heavy to me.  The skirt fabric is quite lightweight, but the shorts are a thicker, denser material.  I'd bet that's perfectly fine almost anywhere else in the US, but they felt a little much for running in the heat here.  They weren't causing heat stroke or anything, but compared to the Skirt Sports skirt, the Sparkle Skirts aren't nearly as light and airy feeling.
  • I don't love the height and tension of the waistband.  These are cut to land at the natural waist, which is just plain higher than I like.  I find that I'm acutely aware of the tight waistband as I run. 
  • I'm not thrilled with the shape of the Swing style, at least not for running.  I found that the extra material kept getting caught between my legs - not a mechanical problem, but annoying.  It's quite cute, though, for non-running activities, I think.

  • Price.  Sparkle Skirts aren't cheap.  You are paying for a well-made product, but at $60+ per skirt, they're more than I can reasonably afford for running apparel.  In the end, I decided to pool my budget for running and non-running bottoms, figuring I could use these for both, otherwise this would be a no-go for me.

In the end, I'm glad I got the Sparkle Skirts; they've already become my go-to bottoms for summer.  Even if I never run in them again, they're great alternatives to shorts for our frequent theme park days!  

I may not ever again buy a C9 skirt, which is a shame.  The shape is so nice, the fabric so light, but I've been spoiled by legs that don't ride up and my poor C9 skirts now reside at the bottom of my drawer.

I am now a total devotee of the Skirt Sport brand.  I bought a 2nd Gym Girl Ultra, also on sale, and also tried out a Marathon Chick skirt that was on clearance.  The Marathon Chick skirt has built-in spankies instead of shorts, is entirely composed of a breezy mesh fabric, and is really nice on particularly hot days.  

In the end, I encourage anyone thinking of a new running skirt to try a few brands and see what works best for your preferences, shape and style.  It's great that we have so many choices - something for everyone! 


  1. What a wonderful review! And, you've made me feel so much better about not being able to afford a Sparkle Skirt!

    1. My pleasure - thanks for your kind words! Don't get me wrong - Sparkle Skirts are very pretty, and really well made. But so are Skirt Sports, so there are other options out there, for sure!

  2. I would recommend you try a Lululemon Pacesetter skirt if you want another option. I love the style and fit and they are extremely lightweight. Sorry your summer is so hot, but Wilmington, NC is not great either!

  3. After a miserable run in creeping shorts yesterday, I decided to order a pair of Gym Girl Ultras. They should be here tomorrow, I hope I like them too!

    1. Darn you V!!! I loved them! I have now ordered several more! They stay put!!!! WOO HOO!

    2. Lol, I'm sorry! But happy, too, that you've found a great skirt :)